Ace helps Jimenez into share of Champions lead

Ace helps Jimenez into share of Champions lead

TUCSON, Ariz. — Miguel Angel Jimenez had a hole-in-one during a 6-under 66 in breezy conditions Friday to match Jeff Sluman for the first-round lead at the Cologuard Classic.

Jimenez won the PGA Tour Champions’ season-opening Mitsubishi Electric Championship in Hawaii and kick-started his round at Tucson National by acing the 193-yard par-3 seventh hole. The 58-year-old Spaniard overcame a bogey on the par-5 eighth with three birdies on the back nine to match Sluman.

The 64-year-old Sluman opened with a birdie on the par-4 first hole and added three more to turn in 4-under 32. He had consecutive birdies at Nos. 13-14 for his best PGA Tour Champions round since a 66 in the 2018 Regions Tradition.

Sluman, who didn’t have a bogey in the opening round, hasn’t won on the senior circuit since 2014.

Tom Lehman tied the lead at 6 under with a birdie on the par-5 17th, but failed to get up and down at No. 18 for a bogey to shoot 67. Woody Austin had seven birdies and Rod Pampling went bogey free to both shoot 67.

Chris DiMarco and Jerry Kelly were among six players at 68.

Reigning Charles Schwab Cup season champion Bernhard Langer had three birdies, but bogeyed No. 18 after hitting into the water on the par 4 to shoot 2-under 70. The 64-year-old struggled to get putts to fall in the desert a week after breaking his own mark as the oldest tour winner by going wire to wire at the Chubb Classic.

Langer is two wins behind Hale Irwin‘s PGA Tour Champions mark of 45.

An 11-time winner on the PGA Tour Champions, Jimenez followed up his win in Hawaii with a fifth in Florida last week. He had consecutive birdies on No. 2/3 and elated one of the biggest galleries at Tucson National when his tee shot at No. 7 took two hops and trickled into the hole.

Jimenez got up and down from a greenside bunker on the par-5 17th for birdie, then missed a birdie putt on No. 18 to remain tied with Sluman.

A six-time winner on the PGA Tour, Sluman picked up six PGA Tour Champions wins in seven seasons after turning 50, but has not been close to winning again since finishing third at the 2017 Chubb Classic.

Sluman has had one top-10 finish in 55 starts the past three seasons and opened 2022 with ties for 23rd and 68th.

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